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Matthew 1:17 KJV

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

In Matthew 1:17 we see 14 generations from exile to Jesus, but when we count Shealtiel to Jesus it's only 13. Why it is so? Please explain.

  • I believe the question relates more to the reason for which Jehoiakim was excluded from Matthew's list of Jesus' genealogy. – user21676 Nov 22 '18 at 20:55
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I Chronicles 3: 15-18 catalogues four men : Josiah, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah and Salathiel :

the sons of Josiah - Jehoiakim (v15)

and the sons of Jehoiakim - Jeconiah (v16)

and the sons of Jeconiah - Salathiel (v17)

The first 'Jeconiah' referred to by Matthew (Matthew 1:11) is the father, also called 'Jehoiakim' in Chronicles.

The second 'Jeconiah' referred to by Matthew in Matthew 1:12 is the son.

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So the first 'Jeconiah' in Matthew's account is the father and is counted in the second stage of generations . . . to give fourteen.

And the second 'Jeconiah' must be counted in Matthew's calculation for his third stage of generations . . .

. . . which also gives fourteen generations.

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  • While this answer solves the question, it poses a new one: why would Matthew refer to Jehoiakim as Jeconiah in Matt 1:11? Linguistically, the name Jeconiah of Matt 1:11 is much closer to the name of Josiah's first born son: Johanan (whose transliteration is, imho, better captured in German translations: Jochanan). – René Nyffenegger Apr 18 at 7:23
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The last generation should be translate Joseph the father or gardian of Mary. Aramaic Bible in Plain English Yaqob begot Yoseph the guardian of Maryam, her from whom was begotten Yeshua, who is called The Messiah. Marys father had the same name as her husband. A nd that makes 14

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    Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your comment. If you are suggesting that the text of the commonly accepted Bible should be amended then you should provide evidence and references. – user25930 Jan 15 '19 at 9:47
  • @user25930 The Greek work anēr (Strong's G435) is a generic word for man. If the translators had chosen 'father' instead of 'husband', it would have avoided a lot of confusion. Notice how it reads when translated 'father': i.imgur.com/aKeINRi.jpg – Bible Explorer Dec 3 '19 at 7:16
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Matthew's way of numbering his "generations" are explained in verse 17 where he states

Matthew 1:17 17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

He splits the generations by significant events in Israel's history, not necessarily by people.

Abraham to David - Abraham is both a person and significant event in Israel's history. 14 generations.

David to Exile - David, like Abe is both a person and significant event in Israel's history. Why is it fair to include David twice? Because this is how the author chooses to number the generations. You can argue with the author of gospel if you like as to the "propaganda value" of this, but this is what he chooses to do. Josiah would be the final person in this list. 14 generations.

From the exile (Or returning generation) to Christ - Jeconiah would start this final list of 14, as he is explicitly listed after the phrase, 12 After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel. Again, one can argue with the author as to his choice to place Jeconiah as an "after exile" generation, but this is what he chooses to do. 14 generations.

Understood this way there are 14 generations split between significant events/people counted in the way the author chooses to count them. The author leaves out some people in the genealogy and one can argue with him for this, but given how the author chooses to lay out this history of Israel, he can indeed count and add correctly to the number 14 not just once but three times!

We must remember that the Gospels were not written as impartial history (if any history can be truly impartial), but to persuade readers as to the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As such the author is stylistically composing his Gospel to parallel Jesus' life with the life of Moses.

This journey begins with Jesus being named after Moses' disciple Joshua (same name, often spelled Yeshua) 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

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  • David does not have to be included twice in order to have 14 generations from David to the exile. – René Nyffenegger Apr 18 at 7:09
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Many scholars believe that the gospel of Matthew was written to a Jewish audience with metaphor and symbolism based in the Old Testament. Matthew 1 as the first book and chapter of the New Testament could be seen as the opening New Testament argument that Jesus (Yeshua) was the messiah promised in the Old Testament.

The a close look at the lineage of Jesus in Matthew 1 shows it is enigmatic demonstration of symbolism meant to demonstrate to the Jewish reader that Yeshua (Jesus) qualified as the promised redeemer. This proof was exemplified in several clever ways.

  1. By demonstrating a connection between the lineage of Yeshua and the Old Testament calendar.
  2. By numerically connecting Yeshua’s lineage to Abraham and David
  3. By emphasizing Yeshua relationship to the sacrificial redemptive rite of the Torah
  4. By showing Yeshua as the both the suffering servant and future king
  5. By connecting Yeshua chronologically to Adam and Abraham

(1.) It is important to note first off that the lineage of Yeshua in Matthew 1 was purposely arranged. As others here have noted, there are 4 missing kings in Yeshua’s lineage. That this was intentional only becomes apparent when the location where these kings were left out is shown relative to the list as described by Matthew.

First all, four kings are missing in the 2nd 14 generational grouping. Three of the missing kings were removed between the 6th and 7th generation, and the final king between the 13th and 14 generation. From a Jewish point of view (steeped in the Torah) this arrangement would have drawn their attention to the Biblical calendar which was lunar/solar. The solar side of the Biblical calendar, based upon the rising and setting of the sun, had as its primary cycle the 6 days of labor and it’s 7th day Sabbath rest. There were 52 of these cycles in each solar year, and they were further dividing roughly into 4 seasons of 13 weeks each.

The lunar side of the Biblical calendar was based upon the 29.53 day lunar cycle. This lunar cycle governed the 7 Biblical festivals throughout the year. These festivals or holy days, and their sacrificial redemptive rites were associated by the New Testament authors with Yeshua. For example, John described Yeshua as the “lamb of God which taken away the sins of the world.” Paul described Yeshua as the “firstfriuts of them that slept”. This Biblical and its associate holy days was regulated by the waxing and waning light of the 29.53 day lunar calendar. Each month there were 13 or 14 waxing days of visible light following by 13 or 14 days of visible waning light.

Since the Biblical calendar was given to Israel by Yahweh, these lunar/solar cycles of 13/14 and 6/7 have been the prophetic clock upon which Israel kept “time”.

enter image description here

Symbolically, it is also worth noting that the single name removed from between the 13th and 14 generation of 2nd grouping is Jehoiakim whose name means “Yahweh Raises Up”. Indeed from a New Testament point of view, it was Yeshua the 13th generation whom, Yahweh raised up to become the 14th generation that brought Yahweh’s salvation to mankind. (Yeshua in Hebrew means = “Yahweh’s Salvation”)

(2.) It is important to understand (as others have noted here) that Matthew 1 describes Yeshua’s generations as 14+14+14 generations or 42 generations from Abraham. As given though Yeshua’s generations are 14+14+13 or 41 in total. This is clearly intentional for a couple of reasons. The Old Testament talks of the coming messiah in terms of the kingship of David. In Matthew 1, king David is the 14th generation. David’s name also has the Hebrew numerical value of 14. Further the list shows that Yeshua is the 41st generation from Abraham. Abraham’s name also has a numerical value of 41.

(3.) By implying that Yeshua is the 14th generation but giving Him as the 13th, this would have in effect made Yeshua both the 13th and 14th generation. For the Jewish reader steeped in the Torah these two numbers would have naturally been associated with the sacrificial redemptive rites of the Torah.

In the Old Testament there are 7 special holy days that Israel was required to keep. During nearly every one of these holydays, Israel was required to make atonement with 13 or 14 sacrifices. This association with the sacrificial rites of the Torah and the coming messiah is spelled out in several Old Testament prophecies. Isaiah 53 is exemplar.

enter image description here

Isaiah 53:10-11
10 Yet it pleased YHWH to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of YHWH shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

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(4.) By showing Yeshua as the 13th and 14th generation Matthew also demonstrated the two fold nature of the Messiah as both a suffering servant and future king. Yeshua as the 13th generation (6+7) was the God Man or HomoDeus, the atonement sacrifice for mankind’s sins. After His death and resurrection, he became the 14th generation and a king as exemplified by kind David as the 14th generation.

(5.) Showing Yeshua as the 41st generation from Abraham, Matthew made a larger chronological connection that his Jewish audience would have understood. According to the Hebrew version of the Old Testament chronology, there were 41 jubilee cycles between Adam and Abraham. According to a reasonable rendering of the OT chronology between Abraham and Yeshua there were also 41 jubilee cycles. In other words, Matthew, by arranging Yeshua’s lineage to show 41 generations, was showing that there was an underlying chronological connection between Abraham and Yeshua.

Yeshua the 13th generation, in the 41st jubilee cycle from Abraham came into this world as the suffering servant to pay the price for mankind’s sins. Yeshua, the 14th generation, in the 42nd jubilee cycle from Abraham, rose from the grave and become the Messianic king upon the throne of David.

enter image description here

In summary, it seems that Matthew 1 was meant to be much more than just a simple listing of Yeshua’s generations. This list appears to be designed by its author as a symbolic testimony or road map if you will, the goal of which was to prove that Yeshua of Nazareth was a fulfillment of the Old Testaments prophecies concerning the coming messianic redeemer.

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The 14th generation is to be after Jesus, it's a prophecy, because the 14th generation is the race of people redeemed by the blood of Jesus, that is the Church. That fulfills it.

Rev. 5:9-10 "And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign[a] on the earth.”

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  • Welcome to BH. Please take the Tour and see the Help (below). This does not make sense : Matthew is recording the past genealogy of the royal line of Jesus through his adoptive parent, Joseph. A future 'generation' is not relevant to the genealogy. – Nigel J Jun 24 at 17:14
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Following Matthew’s stipulations, you should have counted from Babylon/JECHONIAS (NOT his son SALATHIEL) & then the total would be 14 (from ‘BABYLON unto CHRIST’).

But before I explain further, it will be quickly objected that this answer only pushes the problem back to Matthew’s previous groupings of “14”. I will explain fully. Your ‘problem’ should become obvious, as at the same time we dispose of the (often snarkily) repeated assertion that MATTHEW was bad at Math, because 3 times 14 equals 42, not 41 (generations Matthew names in Chapter 1).

Matthew was a TAXMAN, and we can know confidently that he never would have been hired, nor long kept his job, if he couldn’t figure 3x14=42. So Matthew was doing something else here in verse 17.

Matthew was not making a mathematic statement, but rather making a mnemonic suggestion, a way people might begin to memorize the genealogy he records by memorizing them in 3 logical groups.

First, I presume you meant in your question to type the Greek SALATHIEL, (Matthew 1:12 “& AFTER they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; …”)) because SHEALTIEL is not mentioned in MATTHEW chapter 1.

The key is to understand that in verse 17, Matthew is recapitulating the genealogy and listing David TWICE (that is to say, in TWO of the groups of 14). And he did so to emphasize KING DAVID’s unique and monumental demarkation & status as the progenitor of the Royal line from which the Messiah must be descended.

Examine carefully Matthew 1:17 KJV: ”So all the generations from Abraham to David [are] 14 generations; - & from David UNTIL the carrying away into Babylon [are] 14 generations; - & from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ [are] 14 generations."

DAVID was memorized as the final name in the first ’14 generations’ (from Abraham up to and including David), & again memorized as the 1st of the 2nd group of 14. Thus 3 groups of ’14’, but because DAVID IS DUPLICATED, the total is actually 41, not 42.

Look carefully: for memorization, KING DAVID is counted again as the first of the 2nd “14 generations” “until the carrying away into Babylon”. Note well that ‘until’ Babylon does not include Babylon, but rather “up until”, ie, just before. So up UNTIL BABYLON would conclude with Josias, not Jechonias, as the final of the second 14. ((Matthew 1:10 KJV) “…& Amon begat Josias;”)

(Matthew 1:11 KJV) "And Josias begat JECHONIAS … about the TIME THEY WERE CARRIED AWAY TO BABYLON:” (Mat 1:12) "And AFTER they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; …”

In conclusion, people easily (& often intentionally) think the genealogies of the Old and New Testaments confusing. The names are strange, and often have variant spellings. Also, there is no reason to believe that any of these genealogies are all inclusive, as there is good reason to believe that they ‘skipped’ many generations and only highlighted the more significant ones.

Also, your question often leads to the next claim of ‘contradiction’, that the genealogies of MATTHEW versus LUKE differ. But, though Christians may differ, there are powerful and obvious reasons to conclude that Matthew, writing to the Hebrews, was giving the genealogy through the father Joseph, while Luke was listing that through the line of Mary.

I hope I have made this clear, and that the question of genealogies will not be an obstacle.

  DP3
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  • Matthew's list is the genealogy of the royal line which does not, necessarily, follow the direct genealogy (as listed by Luke) of the firstborn in each generation. Royal succession sometimes necessitates other than the direct firstborn being chosen. – Nigel J Nov 27 '18 at 19:48
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The question of Matthew's genealogy is much worse than that. His numerical pattern of fourteen is clearly intended to impress the reader that Jesus' coming was part of a divine plan. But his list of names leaves out several generations between David and the deportation to Babylon, as compared to the list in 1 Chronicles 3:10-12. The names of Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, and Azariah are omitted, and the name "Uzziah" appears instead. Also, the name Jehoiakim is missing from between Josiah and Jechoniah.

This material was evidently included for propaganda value, similar to many other of Matthew's claims of "fulfillment".

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If you read further, you’ll note that God the Holy Spirit is the 13th name in the lineage. Jesus is the last, the 14th. Jesus is the Son of God.

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